Understanding the Vegetative Key - An Essential Tool for Ecologists for Extending the Survey Season


In many books and courses the focus of plant identification is on flowers, with foliage taking a back seat. This has changed with the (recently updated) Vegetative Key to the British Flora by John Poland, which relies solely on using vegetative characters for identification. In the time that ‘Poland’ has been available it has been taken to heart by botanists and ecologists as it enables them to make accurate identifications and effectively extends the botanical field season.

Concentrating on the characters used in ‘Poland’ you will discover the weird and wonderful world of botany and find out how easy it can be to make an accurate identification. Using a hand lens or microscope you will come to marvel at the structures and details to be found in even the commonest species. Working through the ‘Flora’ together participants will discover a range of characters that regularly crop up in the key and, these will be further illustrated with specimens and presentations.

Focusing on practical skills, with group and individual keying out in the classroom and field; this course is ideal for amateur or professional botanists/ecologists both in the voluntary or ecological sector. FISC level 2 and above.

Who Should Attend?

Local Authority ecologists, Ecological consultants, Conservation officers and staff within SNCOs and NGO’s, Students, Environmental managers,
Land Managers, Wardens, Rangers.

Knowledge Level

Beginner - Intermediate

Prior Knowledge

No existing knowledge, or experience is essential, but attendees will gain the most from this course if they have some prior understanding of the parts of a plants, have used a key (not necessarily botanical) and are aware of nomenclature and taxonomy.

Learning Outcomes

  • Distinguish the major vegetative parts of a range of taxa and identify a range of common plants to species level using the vegetative key.
  • Recognise and name the major types of characters e.g. leaf arrangement, leaf forms, hair types, and other key identification structures that are widely used within the vegetative key.


Please bring your own packed lunch and refreshments.


Tickets Person(s) Price
Member Ticket 1 £120.00
Non Member Ticket 1 £180.00